Enneagram for Entrepreneurs & Business Leaders

by Kristi Rowles


So what REALLY makes an entrepreneur successful? Everyone wants to know! In a study published by Cornell University, the number one predictor of high performing CEOs from major companies is… you guessed it: self-awareness

Here’s the deal: entrepreneurs are smart people. They know how to hustle, they think critically and usually they’re beyond capable of finding a solution to any problem that arises. Their biggest issue: themselves. 

We get in our own way ALL THE TIME, wouldn’t you agree? Our mindset needs a shift, our attitude needs a tune-up and our emotions are out of whack. The problem isn’t that these things happen – I mean, we are human! The problem is when we don’t realize they’re happening, and we wind up spinning our wheels for hours, days or weeks unable to conquer the project or problem in front of us or we bulldoze and hurt the people who work with and for us because we don’t realize how we impact them.

Introducing: The Enneagram personality typing system. It’s sweeping the US right now and it is unlike any other personality tool out there. Why? How? Three major reasons:

1. It’s about INTERNAL MOTIVATION – WHY you think, feel and act the way you do

2. It shows us who we are in STRESS and HEALTH. It provides a path of growth and red flags for when we’re disintegrating towards a destructive place.

3. It helps us understand how we IMPACT and INFLUENCE. So many tools say “Oh, here are your strengths! Yay!” and yet they don’t mention that if your strength is commanding a room but you don’t understand how to utilize that strength effectively, you may also wind up dominating and stomping all over your team, losing the trust and influence you desperately need.


We have to understand how we show up as leaders and entrepreneurs if we want to lead our business, teams and customers effectively.

So let's break it down:

They are driven by the desire to make the world right. They often start businesses around an area of the world they feel responsible to help improve. Their businesses may also support a social cause in some way. Above all, the Type 1’s goal is to do work that is moral, ethical and done excellently.

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: Their desire for excellence and longing for perfection stops them from actually completing things. Things are never “perfect enough”, so they push deadlines back hoping to improve the project just a little more. The problem is that could go on forever.


PRACTICAL TIP: 1s need to set and abide by deadlines. Unless there is a massive problem outside of their control that has nothing to do with making the product better, their deadlines need to be non-negotiable. 1s must remember that imperfectly done is better than perfectly undone and seen by no one. 


Driven by the desire to help others and be seen as selfless supporters, Type 2s are compassionate, loving people who often hold a service role directly helping their clients. They are the most “people-people” of any of the types, so they love doing the people-centered parts of their work!

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: Sometimes their need to be with people gets in the way of them actually growing their business. They tend to lack boundaries, and they struggle to say no and can be obsess with people-pleasing


PRACTICAL TIP: Twos need to get crystal clear on business goals so that their boundaries are already set in place when people ask them to do something that doesn’t support their long-term goals, but feels hard to say no to in the moment. Twos need to remember their goals are just as important as others’ and they are worthy of the investment in their own work even if it sometimes means not being there for others in ways they have been before. 


Driven by the desire to be and appear successful to others, Type 3s are wildly dedicated to their work. Type 3s excel at nearly everything they try, and once they find the work they want to commit to, they’ll hustle hard and continue to reach new heights many others dream of. 

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: There are two major issues related to work for 3s – First, they can easily shift from an achiever to a workaholic. When work becomes obsessive, 3s can easily find themselves stuck in sickness, major anxiety and they may find themselves losing relationships or their marriage in the process. Secondly, because the thrill of checking of a task off their list is so invigorating, they often choose quantity over quality with their work. 

PRACTICAL TIP: 3s need to implement structure to ensure they take time for self-care, fun and relationships with people they love. While others must force themselves to work, 3s must force themselves to take breaks. Secondly, 3s need to SLOWWW DOWNNN and remember that doing one thing well is more effective than doing lots of things mediocrely. 


Driven by the desire to be see as unique and special, Type 4s are incredibly gifted at creating and contributing beauty to the world, often in some art form. They have the ability to turn the mundane into something beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. 4s are deep feelers and tend to express that in their work. 

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: While the emotional depth of 4s is what makes their work so impactful, it’s also what can keep them paralyzed. 4s tend to compare their work to others’ and then feel less than. They wind up spending an astronomical amount of time thinking about the past rather than what’s right in front of them.

PRACTICAL TIP: Stop comparing today. Do this by staying in the present moment, remembering that building a successful business happens in front of us, not behind us or beside us (while we’re looking at others’).


As the most inventive number on the Enneagram, 5s are able to objectively see problems and find a workable solution to fix them. They tend to prefer to work alone – they don’t want to depend on others or have their energy depleted by others. They are capable, competent and incredibly gifted critical thinkers.

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: Because of how much time they spend in their heads, 5s are the emotionally detached of all Enneagram types. Since we know that so much of selling our services, products, etc. is based on speaking to the customer’s emotion, 5s can struggle with messaging their business in a way that others relate to or get excited about.

Find someone who is differently gifted and can help you fill the gaps in your business, specifically around messaging and marketing. Meet with this friend/person/colleague at least twice per month and let them help you.



While most Sixes prefer to be second in command, not the top leader, Type 6 entrepreneurs use their hard work, detailed minds and inner courage to grow their businesses. They are driven by the need to feel safe and secure, and they tend to be trustworthy leaders.

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: Sixes have an “inner committee” within their minds. It’s like their brains have a board meeting over every decision at hand. While this allows them to think through things thoroughly, it also lands them in analysis paralysis and unable or unwilling to make decisions or take action.

Get your thoughts outside of your head! Once you get them out, you can sort them and make a logical, objective decision. Create what I call a “Decision Navigator”, use a white board, mind-map on paper. Externalize the inner committee’s opinions then make the objective best decision for your business.



Sevens love being entrepreneurs because they get to be in charge of their time. Type 7s don’t like being told what to do or being restricted, so being their own boss is quite appealing. 7s are passionate visionaries and could get people excited about the lamest product with their optimistic, fun-loving and creative energy.

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: They struggle with anything that isn’t fun, so the business details that feel “lame” often get left by the wayside. They also love starting things but get bored and leave them unfinished. 

Sandwiching! Learn to sandwich boring tasks between fun ones and reward yourself with extra time on a fun project after you’ve done something that feels life-sucking. “Boring” things are often still important things for overall business success, so sandwiching them between fun things will help you do what needs done without hating your life!



The most passionate, energetic type on the Enneagram, 8s have a fire that burns deep inside that drives them to conquer whatever is set between them and what they want. Their heart – deep inside – is tender and often plays a part in the mission of their work. They are often fighting to protect something that matters to them.

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: 8s make decisions from their gut- it’s instinctual. They generally don’t pause to consult their minds, feelings or anyone else. Sometimes, this immediate-action is a great thing. Other times, when they’re working with others, whether colleagues or customers, it comes out as arrogant, controlling and dominating.

Learn to take 1 solid deep breath before reacting. Since you often struggle to read a room, make eye contact with a trusted person in the room and let them interpret the feel for you. Does anyone care about this decision? No, then go for it! Are there very strong opinions, sensitive feelings around this issue? Yes? Then slow down and tend to your people before taking action.  If 8s want to maintain their influence, the people they’re trying to lead must feel cared for.



9s have the unique ability to see things from multiple perspectives, even often at the cost of their own. They have the least amount of energy of all the types and don’t tend to be that ambitious, but when a Type 9 actually gets clear on their dream and believes they’re worthy to make it happen, they can be incredible, positive leaders. 

BLIND SPOT/PROBLEM: While 9s have great ideas, they often struggle to believe their dreams are worthy of attention or that they matter at all. 9s tend to be fairly passive in life and finding confidence and consistent energy can be difficult. 

PRACTICAL TIP: Steady routines, especially in the mornings, can be a game changer for Type 9s. There is a saying mirroring the Law of Inertia: “A 9 in motion stays in motion. A 9 at rest stays at rest.” If Nines can get up in the morning, get their body moving and yet leave their minds somewhat at rest, it will keep them moving throughout the day. A slow morning often means a slow moving day.


Not sure what your Enneagram type is, but ready to find out, so that you can perform better at work and stay in your lane of genius? I'VE GOT YOU!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Fantastic article, and extremely helpful.

    What is the ending for the practical tip for two though? It cuts off after “struggle to s”.

    1. Jess, thank you so, so much! And good catch on the Type 2! I just edited that! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

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